What is socialist art today? Episode #1. New People #2016
Participants: Aisling Marks, Anastasia Vepreva, Claudia Grigg Edo, Cora Czarnecki, Fawad Khan, Ilja Mirsky, Judith Lavagna, Kerri Jefferis, Kristina Lelovac, Lina Ruske, Natalya Pankina, Nina Gojic, Pablo Lechuga, Philipp Rödel, Roman Osminkin, Sumugan Sivanesan, Wong Wai-Yim
a project realized by Chto Delat (Nina Gasteva, Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Dmitry Vilensky) and Jonathan Brooks Platt.
We invite you to join our learning play which we are staging together after our investigation “What is socialist art today?”, which took place over the past six days in the form of seminars, lectures and rehearsals.
Chto Delat is well known for its utopian exploration of the communist imaginary and communist desire. With this learning play project, we want to focus on a more pragmatic approach to the arts and scrutinize different artistic practices that operate in a hostile world of commodity fetishism but are structured in a fundamentally different way. We believe that today this has become more urgent than ever, since we, cultural workers, are challenged by developments on the new European left, as popular movements and parties demonstrate the courage to claim power. It is necessary to restructure not just urgent economic issues and fight against austerity (as Syriza and Podemos have done) but also to provide a new vision of cultural politics.
The learning process was based on a rather bizarre experiment: we took as our point of departure the original Soviet doctrine of socialist realism and examined whether it might be possible to project it into the realities of our time. What will happen with such a positions as: party-mindness, didacticism, optimism for the future, accessibility (narodnost or “people-mindedness”), and the emergence of new people? Our studies at the Impulse Festival focused primarily on the concept of New People. In the socialist realist “master plot,” the New Man journeys from elemental spontaneity to revolutionary consciousness under the mentorship of the party. Though fraught with contradictions, this aesthetic paradigm serves as an allegory for subjectivization. Socialism is happening all around us, and art’s task is to help us see it, follow it, and remain faithful to the revolutionary event. In our prerevolutionary conditions this becomes a narrative of preparation for a moment of decision still to come.
We hope that together we can find a new definition of socialist art, trace its genealogy and question the possibilities for its practical realization.